The name “King of the insect world” is very apt for this magnificent butterfly. The Monarch Butterfly can do exceptional things even though it is a small creature. Its life cycle is a thing to behold: from a tiny egg to a caterpillar, transforming into a chrysalis, and finally into a beautiful butterfly.
They migrate, covering thousands of miles in search for new homes, breed along the way and travels back again to their place of origin. Below are some more amazing facts about monarch butterflies:
The Monarch Butterfly’s scientific name is Danaus plexippus. The term means “sleepy transformation” in Greek language and is inspired by the Greek myth of Danaus. In this story the daughters of Danaus, King of Libya, not wanting to marry their cousins leave Libya and go to Greece. The Monarch Butterflies long migration tell us of the daughters’ flight.
The Aztec believed the adult Monarch Butterflies to be the incarnation of their dead warriors.
Lepidopterists are people who study Monarch Butterflies.
The Monarch Butterfly is also called a Milkweed Butterfly and is cousin to all milkweed eating butterflies.
The Monarch Butterflies lives for about 8-9 months.
The Monarch Butterflies have a wingspan of 3 3/8 – 4 7/8 inches (8.6 – 12.4 cm).
The male Monarch Butterfly has a dark spot (scent scales) and its claspers (reproductive organ) is situated at the end of its abdomen.
The beautiful orange color of the Monarch butterfly acts as a defense mechanism from predators, signaling that their intended meal might be toxic. Not all Monarchs are poisonous since not all milkweeds secretes cardiac glycosides.
Only two birds species namely: the Black Headed Grosbeak and the Black-Backed Orioles can eat the Monarch Butterfly.
The Monarch Butterfly breathes through its wings and female Monarchs have thicker wing veins.
Monarch butterflies have been seen flying as high as 1,000 feet in the air.
They like it better on highlands and do not travel at very high speeds.
The wings of the Monarch Butterflies have the tendency to wear out from time to time.
North American Monarchs and the Vietnamese Monarchs can be distinguish by its marking.
Monarch butterflies covers a distance of about 2,000 miles traveling from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and return to the north again in the spring. Its Mexican wintering place was only discovered in 1975.
Monarchs can fly as high as a kilometer or more and travel at a speed 5 to 30 miles an hour during migration and can fly a 1000km without stopping.
Monarch Butterflies can overheat in hot climates however; they use “thermals,” or warm air, allowing them to conserve energy and helps them glide as they migrate.
Monarch Butterflies crossbreed with only their own kind.
Monarch females can lay up to 500 eggs, usually laying a single egg on a plant. After about four days, the eggs will hatch.
As a caterpillar, the Monarch Butterfly eats milkweed but as it becomes an adult butterfly it feasts on nectar.
Monarch larvae have six pairs of eyes called ocelli but have very poor vision.
The larvae feed on the plant leaves for about two weeks and develop into caterpillars about 2 inches long.